Muslim medical students are refusing to learn about alcohol-related illnesses and sexually-transmitted diseases because they say it goes against their religious beliefs.
And a small number are even refusing to examine patients of the opposite sex because they say it is forbidden by the Koran.
The General Medical Council and the British Medical Association both say they have heard of cases of trainee doctors having religious objections.
Some Muslim students claim studying sex and alcohol related diseases is ‘offensive’
But they say they did not approve of them, pointing out that a doctor would not be able to qualify if they missed parts of their course.
The BMA, the professional body for doctors, said it had been notified of Muslim students who did not want to learn anything about alcohol or the effects of overconsumption.
‘They are so opposed to the consumption of it they don’t want to learn anything about it,’ a spokesman said.
And the GMC, which regulates doctors and maintains the medical register, recently brought out a paper for medical schools explaining what to do if students ask whether they could still graduate if they omitted parts of the medical curriculum.
The document makes it clear that doctors will not be able to opt out of any part of their training despite any religious objections.
Professor Peter Rubin, chairman of the GMC’s education committee, said: ‘Examples have included a refusal to see patients who are affected by diseases caused by alcohol or sexual activity, or a refusal to examine patients of a particular gender.’
But he said trainees who refused to carry out these parts of their courses would not be allowed to graduate because ‘prejudicing treatment on the grounds of patients’ gender or their responsibility for their condition would run counter to the most basic principles of ethical medical practice.’
Dr Abdul Majid Katne of the Islamic Medical Association said he did not support students who wanted to opt out of certain aspects of their courses.
‘To learn about alcohol, to learn about sexually-transmitted disease, to learn about abortion, it gives us more evidence to campaign against it,’ he said. ‘There is a difference between learning and practising.
‘It is obligatory for Muslim doctors and students to learn about everything. The Prophet said: “Learn about witchcraft, but don’t practise it”.’
Sainsbury’s and Boots allow their pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill to customers if they have ‘ethical’ concerns.
I am glad the General Medical Council is able to maintain its standards by refusing to qualify ANY medical student that doesn’t reach the require level of education (irrespective of beliefs).
I praise the GMC everytime they strike off a doctor that fails to honour the Declaration of Geneva; I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.